It’s hard to deny that images and footage captured by drones can be breathtaking, but using such remote aircraft does not come without its safety concerns, with 53 reported incidents in New Zealand in 2015 alone (to the end of June), an increase from 27 in 2014.
New Civil Aviation Authority rules came into effect on August 1 to improve the safety of users of unmanned aircraft, which includes that of drones and other airspace users as well as of people and property.
If a drone is to be used at night, beyond the user’s line of sight (unaided by binoculars or the like) or in the dark, the user must receive Unmanned Aircraft Operator Certification from the Civil Aviation Authority. Flying your drone higher than 120m (400 feet) above ground level is also prohibited. An update to the existing rules also sees users required to receive consent from property owners — including the local council, for public spaces — to fly devices over their property, as well as having a plan to manage the safety risks.
Civil Aviation Authority general manager of general aviation Steve Moore says, “Having a conversation with a property owner beforehand is an effective means of risk management, because they are likely to have the best knowledge of the risks.
“We are encouraging public land owners to be proactive. This could involve erecting signs at the park entrance indicating whether or not unmanned aircraft flights are allowed.” To ensure you’re working within the parameters of the new and updated regulations, visit caa.govt.nz/rpas.